Family Tradition

Family Tradition at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair featuring the Hot Air Balloon Festival

For those not familiar with theWarren County Farmers’ Fair it is a nostalgic event that happens annually, from Saturday to Saturday, the week of August 1st. Normally sandwiched between a popular hot air balloon festival on hiatus for 2024, and a large music festival in the Lehigh Valley, PA, the event can easily be overlooked. Let us share with you more about it.

It’s a place that makes visitors feel like they have traveled back in time, before cell phones and selfies were a thing that consumed people. In fact, until a few years ago online tickets and credit card machines at the gate were unheard of. These days, advance admission tickets for the event, which runs from July 27 through August 3, may be purchased through the link on the website. The event is an affordable $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6 through 12. Children ages 5 and under are free, as well as parking. Save on tickets purchased online through July 26th.

The Fair Directors and other volunteers work hard each year to present this event to visitors far and wide. Weather is always a gamble. In fact, in 2023, two weeks before the event, the Fairgrounds, along with other parts of Warren County, were flooded. What would have shut others down, brought all the directors, their family and friends, local businesses and supporters in droves to work tirelessly to bring the event two short, but hard weeks later. The event is truly “family tradition” and a little water was not going to stop locals from presenting their annual celebration. The Directors extent an invitation to your family this year, and start your own family tradition.

Horse Ring
Beyond the FFA and livestock buildings is the Horse Ring. Each day you may watch a different horse show, from Western and English competitions to a dressage and even a jousting demo.

The event has roots back to 1859, but the Warren County Farmers’ Fair Association was officially created in 1937 and this year the Fair is celebrating it’s 86th year. If you are quick at math you might be saying, “that math doesn’t add up.” That’s because of 2020. (Do we really want to talk about that year?) Only for positive things that grew out of the experience for Warren County. The year the Fair shut down, local balloon pilots and organizers saw no reason to let indoor restrictions stop this outdoor activity. Long time sponsor, Warren Community College, in Washington, New Jersey was game to host the event, with the blessing of the Fair directors.

The College had been highlighting its expansive Drone/Robotics/AI program at the Fair. They welcomed the smaller event for what was thought to be a one-time event to bridge the gap in years, and keep the Fair on people’s mind. Because of this bold move, today Warren County boasts three hot air balloon festivals. Two of the three events happen at the College, and help promote WarrenUAS—a program preparing students for high paying jobs in multiple industries. Visitors may also learn about the program at the Fair, with drone demos on both Saturdays, at 1 pm, and a booth at the Fair weeklong.

Being farmers, the Directors acknowledge changing with the times is necessary to to stay ahead. They have to be flexible in all aspects of their businesses, and the Fair has been no exception. Over the years they began to add agriculture related events like truck pulls, to complement their tractor pulls that run throughout the week. They even added some other thrill shows like Demolition Derbies. This year, opening day Saturday, in the Main Arena visitors can enjoy the Black Cat Hell Driver Stunt Car show. Advance tickets for the Demolition Derbies, on Sunday and Friday, as well as the stunt car show are available by mail. Download the form here.

The Belvidere FFA Alumni and Supporters are holding a Car, Truck & Tractor Show on opening day as well. Entrance into the car show, which runs from 12-4pm, includes free Fair entrance after participation in the show. On Monday night the Fair is host to an Antique Car show, from 4:30-7pm, sponsored by American Legion Post 528. Take your antique ride out for a spin and show your support.

Today the Fair offers carnival rides with wristband specials on select days, affordable food options with booths run by local non-profit organizations and free musical entertainment with a rock, folk or country flair. During the 8 day event, visitors may enjoy the Traditional Arts Expo, where crafters display and demonstrate their skills and passion for quilting, sewing, weaving and crocheting. The Pet Show, Talent Show and a variety of other contests and exhibits are open to participate or enjoy. Visit the Rules & Regs page on the website for all the details.

One family favorite is the Kids’ Corral, where children may enjoy shows, make crafts and even join a Foam Party at 7 pm on both Saturdays of the event. They may enjoy presentations on electricity and bee pollination, magic shows, a popular reptile show and so much more. All activities at the Kids’ Corral are free of charge to visiting families.

One of the biggest additions is the Hot Air Balloon Festival, added in 2001. There will be mass balloon launches each evening of the Fair, around 6:30 pm. Adventurers can schedule a hot air balloon ride, which will take them over the breathtaking landscape of Warren County. For the not-so-adventurous, the festival offers tethered rides each evening. Tethered rides are short up and down flights in a real hot air balloon that is tied to the ground. Reservations are recommended for the full flights. Tethered ride tickets are sold on site the day of the rides, approximately one hour before flight time, to be determined by the weather on site each day. And for those that want to keep their feet on the ground, the balloons will begin to set up and inflate anywhere from 6:15 - 7:15 pm.

All these additions to the Fair over time have created an event that offers a little something for everyone. Visitors travel from hours away for their favorite family traditions at the Fair. By expanding their offerings, while continuing to celebrate their agricultural roots, the Fair organization has been able to continue the event to deliver 86 years of Family Tradition! They look forward to seeing you Saturday, July 27 to Saturday, August 3, in the town of Harmony, in beautiful Warren County, New Jersey.

For all the details visit the website at www.warrencountyfarmersfair.org
Or be sure to download the brochure at warrencountyfarmersfair.org/Brochure-2024.pdf.

The Warren County Farmers’ Fair is supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism. VisitNJ.org.

Funding was provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Warren Co. Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a Division of the Department of Land Preservation with support by the Warren County Board of County Commissioners.

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This story was first published: Summer, 2011